Science and Culture in current-day Brazil
I wake up to the news that the National Museum in Rio de Janeiro is burned down. One of the most important collections gone, one of the best libraries for Social and Cultural Anthropology gone, the archives of various former professors gone, the space where people researched, learned, discussed, tried to understand the former, present and future lives of people in Brazil and beyond gone, a historical monument marking key points of the Brazilian history gone, and most importantly one more place gone in which everybody could learn about the past and present of this country, become informed citizens, engage with the current devastating, worrying, sincerely frightening political, economic and social situation of Brazil - GONE. I came to Rio de Janeiro first hosted by the Universidade Estadual do Rio de Janeiro (UERJ) and then the National Museum of the Universidade Federal of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ). Even the world heard in the past news on the castigation that the UERJ went through as the first place that offered evening classes for students who had to work and quotas to combat structural discrimination. But even one of the most elite places, which has become more democratic in recent years with a more diversified student and professorial body, had fallen into neglect over the past years having to stay closed at various points because of the lack of funding even for the most basic services, let alone a much needed reform. Now the flames had it. What can be recovered won't be much. It is a devastating and frightening coincidence - if you believe it is - that all of this happens at a time when there does not seem much interest in public education, or rather, where the interest much rather seems to be to keep the masses ignorant again to even better exploit them. This is how it feels in Brazil these days. Being far, I cannot follow the call of my colleague Maria Elvira Díaz Benítez to go there in the morning to rescue what is left, nor can I stand by my adviser Luiz Fernando Dias Duarte who has found very clear words identifying the root causes of this desaster (https://www.theguardian.com/…/fire-engulfs-brazil-national-…), nor join the efforts of the amazing stuff of the Biblioteca Francisca Keller - PPGAS, nor take to the streets with my fellows of the PPGAS. As I did when the Rectoria of the Federal University burned down a couple of years ago, where the library of the Interdisciplinary Nucleus of Migration Studies was housed and of which I am a member (NIEM), I can only be as supportive as possible from far. I hope that Institutions of Education worldwide will do the same in rebuilding a unreplaceable loss instead of accepting a void soon to be taken by the destructive forces of our time.